Children's Author Inspires America's Youth to Make a Difference

-Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes Announces 2011 Winners-

Sep 15, 2011, 08:30 ET from Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes

BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Courage, commitment, compassion, creativity.  These are the qualities that bestselling children's book author T.A. Barron instills in his heroic fictional characters, and the same traits he recognizes in the recipients of his Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes.

Each year, the Barron Prize for Young Heroes honors 25 young leaders (10 winners and 15 finalists), ages 8 to 18, who have planned and executed significant projects to make a difference in the lives of others and/or the environment. The top ten winners each receive a cash prize of $2500 for their education or service project.  

"I've always believed that our country's youth has the power to change the world," says T.A. Barron, "and year after year they prove me right.  I am incredibly impressed by the range and scope of their accomplishments.   I also feel that the best way to show young people that they can make a difference is by sharing examples of what others have done.  In that sense, the Barron Prize becomes a wonderful, continuous chain of highlighting what the amazing honorees have achieved and inspiring more kids to do the same."  

For the first time in honor of its 10th year, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes has named 11 winners.  They are:

Christina Antonini, age 18, Edgewater, MD

Christina led a team of Girl Scouts who worked for six years to build a $275,000 boutique at a long-term residential treatment facility that provides drug and alcohol rehabilitation and job training to low-income women.

Eric and Christina Bear, ages 11 and 13 (siblings), Golden, CO

In October 2010, Christina and Eric launched the Radon Awareness Project (RAP) with the mission of educating the public on the dangers of radon and the importance of testing for it. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, accounting for an estimated 21,000 deaths each year.

Olivia Bouler, age 11, Islip, NY

Olivia, an avid birdwatcher and talented artist, was heartbroken when she heard of the April 2010 BP oil spill.  She created bird drawings to give to people who donated to wildlife recovery efforts.  Olivia has donated 500 original drawings and thousands of limited edition prints, raising more than $200,000 for the Audubon Society and other groups working on oil spill recovery efforts.

Kendall Ciesemier, age 18, Wheaton, IL

She founded Kids Caring 4 Kids, a non-profit that inspires children in the U.S. to raise money to help kids in Africa.  So far, she has inspired 7,000 U.S. kids to raise almost $900,000 for children in Africa. The money goes toward schools, food, clean water and health clinics.

Jonny Cohen, age 15, Highland Park, IL

Jonny invented GreenShields, a polycarbonate shield that attaches to the front of school buses, making the buses more aerodynamic and more fuel efficient.  On its first test run, Jonny's GreenShield reduced gas consumption by nearly 30%.

Blakely Colvin, age 17, Solvang, CA

She created Cupcakes for Cancer, an organization that bakes and sells cupcakes to raise money to help kids with cancer. So far, she has raised $80,000 to help fund pediatric cancer research, offset expenses for families whose kids are fighting cancer, and to grant seven sick children wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Blakely was inspired by her own diagnosis at age 7 with a rare auto-immune disease, which required years of chemotherapy.

Jeffrey Hanson, age 17, Overland Park, KS  

Six years ago, as an 11-year-old, Jeff was going blind from an optic nerve tumor caused by a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis.  During chemotherapy and radiation, he began painting and selling note cards as a pastime and then for charity, and raised over $13,000 for neurofibromatosis research.   Since then, he has been creating original works on canvas, which have generated over $355,000 for charities around the world.

Manasvi Koul, age 18, Waxhaw, NC  

Manasvi created the LIVEbeyond Foundation to educate, motivate, and recruit bone marrow donors.  In two years, she has registered more than 500 people -- all potential life savers.  She is passionate about her work because of her diagnosis with cancer of the lymphatic system at age 12.

Will Lourcey, age 8, Ft. Worth, TX

Will founded FROGS: Friends Reaching Our Goals, a group made up of eleven 8-year-old boys who are raising awareness and money for the hungry in their community.  So far they have raised over $12,000 for the local food bank.

Rhiannon Tomtishen, age 15, Madison Vorva, age 16, Ann Arbor, MI

In 2006, the girls started Project ORANGS (Orangutans Really Appreciate and Need Girl Scouts) for a Girl Scout award to raise awareness about the endangered orangutan.  In the process, they discovered that the production of palm oil was resulting in rainforest destruction and threatening the orangutan's survival.  They then began a crusade to remove palm oil from Girl Scout cookies.

Rujul Zaparde, age 16,   Plainsboro, NJ

Rujul founded Drinking Water for India to increase access to clean water in remote, rural communities in India. He has inspired and mobilized over 450 students in 23 U.S. schools to start local chapters of his organization.  Chapters fundraise to provide $1,000 tube wells for remote villages in India.  They have built 47 wells thus far.

The winners of the Barron Prize Award, both past and present, represent the great diversity of America.  They are female and male, urban and rural, and from varied backgrounds.  The Barron Prize for Young Heroes is in association with National Geographic Education Foundation; the Jane Goodall Institute; Youth Service America; and Student Conservation Association.  For more information on the Barron Prize for Young Heroes, visit the Web site at or

SOURCE Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes